Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A snow day that I can enjoy

I'm enjoying a snow day. I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, read the N&O online, cleared a path across the deck and the side and front steps, and made a little snow cream. If I had to, I could get to the office, but there's nothing to do there, so I'll play it safe and not risk a useless skid into a ditch.

For 33 years in the newspaper business, "snow days" did not mean a day off. They meant a day or night of hazards and rushed work. Like police officers, firefighters, utility crews and a few others, newspaper folks had to work on days when no one wanted to. One cold morning after a huge overnight snowfall, I couldn't get my car out of the driveway, so I set out on foot for the newspaper office, about two miles away downtown. As the wind-driven snow whipped my exposed face, someone in a pickup gave me a lift after about a half mile, and I got to the office, got the paper out and went home. The next few days, I reported to work every morning, even though few others in town worked, and mail was not delivered. Unafraid of driving in the snow, I ferried co-workers to and from work. I kept a shovel in my trunk in case I had to dig out of a drift, which I did a couple of times.

When I was working for a morning paper (one that goes to press at night) in Danville, Va., a sudden storm blew in early in the evening, and we rushed to get the paper to press early. By the time the press cranked up, the snow was about 8 inches deep, and I couldn't really see the road. I realized I had to cross the Dan River to get home. I fell in behind an 18-wheeler and followed his tracks across the high bridge and up a long hill that I wasn't sure we were going be able to reach the top, where my road turned off.

Many more early mornings with the ground turned white greeted me during my years at the afternoon paper. Snow meant we had to get in early, gather the news, write it, edit it, send it to production, and then hope the newspaper carriers would show up and would complete their routes. Most of them did, most of the time. I took my wife to work and brought her home a few times, driving my car with a manual transmission because I thought it gave me better control. I still skidded frighteningly when I tapped my breaks on an icy sheet on a side street late one afternoon.

So being in a line of work that does not turn snowfall into a mandatory, harried, sometimes scary workday is a nice relief. I'll get to the office tomorrow, even if I have to walk.

1 comment:

surfsalterpath said...

We received the n&o this AM. Kinda surprised. Maybe the wdt came but is under the snow. :(
The last snow threat, wdt delivered the night before-lucky we found it. Maybe not so lucky this time. Is nice to sit back and enjoy.